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Podcast: The Computer Weekly Downtime Upload – episode 35

In this week’s episode of the Computer Weekly Downtime Upload podcast, the team pick over the finale of Channel 4 reality show The Circle, talk General Election tech and find out why enterprises are not prepared to pay a premium for business applications infused with AI

In this episode of the Computer Weekly Downtime Upload podcast, Caroline Donnelly, Clare McDonald and Brian McKenna sift through some of the biggest tech-related stories. 

  • After a three-week hiatus, the podcast team reconvene for a long-overdue discussion about the outcome of tech-laden Channel 4 reality TV show The Circle.
  • The premise involves a group of strangers (all living side-by-side within an apartment block building) who are never allowed to meet or converse unless it is done via the show’s social media platform, known as The Circle.
  • The tagline of the show is that “anyone can be anyone within The Circle”, which has given rise to contestants adopting different genders, sexualities and ages, for example, to make themselves more appealing to the other players in the hope of not getting voted off.
  • Clare leads the discussion about what she made of the final episode and the show’s ultimate winner, before going on to share her musings about how she would like to see The Circle platform developed over future series of the programme, while Caroline says the show highlights some important points around the benefits of being your “authentic self” in any given situation.
  • Brian then kicks off a new (and temporary) section of the podcast, entitled Tech on the Stump, in which the team will take a weekly look at some of the tech-related talking points from the General Election campaign.
  • Against this backdrop, Caroline talks about Twitter’s incoming ban on paid-for political adverts appearing on its platform, and Facebook’s reaction to its social media rival’s claim that user engagement on this matter needs to be earned, and not bought.
  • This leads to a discussion about the veracity of the results thrown up by some of the tactical voting websites that have emerged since the election was announced, as well as who might be the brains behind them. Given the role the internet has played in the spread of fake news and misinformation during certain overseas elections, can the electorate trust what they read any more?
  • Brian also touches on the role that social media has played in the decision by a number of prominent female MPs to stand down ahead of the election, with many citing the abuse they receive online as a factor in their exit from politics.
  • Clare and Brian then open up about their recent press trip adventures, which saw the former take a trip to Las Vegas for Splunk.conf, while the latter headed to Paris for the HR tech-focused Unleash conference.
  • Clare shares details off an interesting panel she attended at Splunk’s annual user conference, where senior women in technology at Splunk, Boeing and Sandia National Laboratories shared their advice and experience on how they have set about navigating the (still very) male-dominated tech industry.
  • Then Brian runs through the high points of a sit-down chat he had in Paris with Unit4 CEO Mike Ettling, who shared his observations about the unwillingness of enterprise customers to pay a premium for business applications where artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced analytics are “baked in”, because they expect these added extras to come free.
  • This week’s discussion concludes with Caroline updating the team on the latest developments in Apple’s long-running Irish datacentre saga. While the company officially called time on its ambitions to build a server farm in the town of Athenry, County Galway, in May 2018, the local residents have been hoping that, in time, the firm might change its mind.
  • Those hopes have now been dashed since Apple listed the site of its proposed datacentre for sale, so Caroline ponders: what will become of the site now?

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